2020 has been a year like no other, and on the track, it’s been a truly special one for South Australian racing.
Highly regarded SA racing industry journalist LINCOLN MOORE has provided his TOP 10 moments of the year.
10 – KING OF LEOGRANCE
In one of the most dominant Adelaide Cup wins in the modern era, the Danny O’Brien-trained former import was kept wide and out of trouble before powering away from rivals to score by 2.3 lengths. Unfortunately it was a win that came with mixed emotions, as the stable was enduring the pain of losing a track rider in an accident back home on race morning.
9 – JOHN ALLEN
A decision to go into lockdown paid handsomely for Victorian hoop John Allen. The former Irishman who came to Australia to forge a career as a jumps jockey has always had an affinity with Adelaide, where he landed his maiden Group 1 success on the flat. But his three weeks in Adelaide were superb. He ran third in the SA Oaks aboard Affair To Remember, won the Group 1 SA Derby on Russian Camelot and the Adelaide Guineas on Game Keeper for the McEvoys, before his carnival culminated with a Group 1 Goodwood victory aboard Trekking for global racing giant Godolphin.
8 – HEY DOC
After finishing runner-up behind Scales Of Justice first-up in the Australia Stakes back in January, Hey Doc bounced back with a bang at Moonee Valley in October. He claimed the fourth Group 1 success in his brilliant career to date when he was too good for Trekking, before running fifth behind Bivouac in the VRC Classic at Flemington.
7 – RUSSIAN CAMELOT
A star was born in the South Australian Derby in May, via another Danny O’Brien import. The boom colt was heavily backed across Australia and delivered in spades, racing away from star local colt Dalasan to score the most impressive Derby win we’ve seen in years.
6 – KEMALPASA
A brilliant 2019 was matched with a big 2020 for Kemalpasa. He travelled to the Gold Coast and finished a luckless fourth behind Madame Rouge in the $1 million Magic Millions Sprint, before some niggling injuries denied him a crack at hometown sprints during the Adelaide carnival. However, he was back bigger and better than ever in the spring, running third behind Behemoth first-up in the Group 3 Spring Stakes before heading back to Melbourne and finishing third behind Zoutori in the Group 3 Gilgai. He then won the Linlithgow Stakes at Flemington for a second successive year, before going to Sandown and scoring a dominant win in the Kevin Heffernan Stakes over 1300m.
5 – JAMIE KAH
The star South Australian jockey is enjoying her breakout season in Victoria and took all before her in the spring. She landed another Group 1, in combination with SA trainer Phillip Stokes, claimed a plethora of spring features, and came heartbreakingly close in the race that stops a nation, finishing an agonising third on Prince Of Arran. She finished the year with a commanding six-win buffer over Damien Oliver on the Melbourne riders’ premiership.
4 – BELLA VELLA
Plucked out of New South Wales via an online auction, Bella Vella has been a revelation in SA for the Will Clarken team. Her 2019 was excellent before she took things to a bigger level in 2020. She won first-up at Moonee Valley, claimed the Hills Railway Stakes at Morphettville before leading throughout to defeat Lyre in the Group 1 Sangster Stakes at Morphettville in May. She claimed another Moonee Valley feature, winning the Group 2 McEwen Stakes in the spring, and was third behind Pippie in the Group 1 Moir before running down the track behind Hey Doc in the Manikato.
3 – BEHEMOTH
In a vintage year for SA racing Behemoth was brilliant. He claimed the Group 3 D C McKay Stakes at Morphettville in May after Jungle Edge was disqualified, before he came from the clouds for a luckless (for a second successive year) fourth behind Trekking in the Group 1 Goodwood. But his spring was sensational. The David Jolly-trained galloper defeated Dalasan first-up in the Spring Stakes before going to Melbourne and winning consecutive Group 1 races, the Memsie and the Rupert Clarke Stakes, both at Caulfield, earning him a start in The Everest.
2 – GYTRASH
It was a breakout year for SA sprint star Gytrash. He gained his ‘giant killer’ tag when he overpowered Redzel to win the Lightning Stakes at Flemington back in February before placings in both the Group 1 Newmarket and William Reid Stakes. His Adelaide Carnival was first class. The Gordon Richards-trained stable star beat Sunlight by 3.1 lengths to win the Group 3 Irwin Stakes before he was narrowly run down by Trekking in the Group 1 Goodwood. But it was in Sydney where he really came of age, again upstaging boom sprinter Nature Strip to win the Group 3 Concorde Stakes before a game placing in the $15 million The Everest. Gytrash finished his Sydney stint in style, winning the $1 million Yes Yes Yes Stakes and snaring connections a $750,000 bonus in the process.
1 – SA RACING INDUSTRY
2020 will be long remembered as the year that the COVID-19 pandemic took over worldwide. But a united SA racing industry was able to successfully navigate its way through each and every hurdle to race on. South Australia’s participants working together during such a difficult time was something they can all be very proud of.